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Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning: 101 Lessons & Mentor Texts--Narrative, Opinion/Argument, & Informative/Explanatory, Grades 4-9 (Corwin Literacy) 1st Edition
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Sometimes a student’s best teacher is another student
If ever there were a book to respond to the pressure to increase students’ test scores, this is it. You see, Gretchen Bernabei and Judi Reimer have had amazing success using mentor texts by students to teach writing well in any genre. Now, they "hand over their file drawers" and pair 101 student essays with one-page lessons on topics such as how to:
- Choose a structure across genres
- Extract thesis statement and main points
- Support points with details
- Use rhetorical devices and grammatical constructions
- Write from the point of view of a fictional character
"Here is what I love about this book: It has gobs and gobs of student writing samples with smart and lively explanations of how to use each as the focus of a craft lesson to teach writing. The right models of student writing are the best mentor texts a teacher can find and with this book, you need look no further. . . . Breathe, fellow writing teachers. Much needed and wanted help has arrived."-- Ruth Culham, Author of Traits Writing
"Gretchen Bernabei is a wizard. In this book she provides wonderfully practical help for instruction in narrative, expository, and argumentative writing. And like all her work, it rests on a dynamic sense of ‘structure’. At a time when writing instruction is becoming increasingly formulaic, Gretchen continues to show the wealth of options students can have for developing their ideas and expanding on their experiences."-- Thomas R. Newkirk, Author of Holding On to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones
"Gretchen Bernabei has done it again--only better. Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning plops us down in the middle of the disheveled process of writing and gives us concrete ways to navigate through. This book stands apart in two ways. First, it gives us myriad unpublished mentor texts written by students with diverse abilities and backgrounds. Second, its a la carte format makes it a perfect resource from which teachers can cull lessons." -- Kay Shurtleff, President
"Once again, Gretchen Bernabei weaves together masterful, concrete strategies with powerful student examples. Gretchen provides text structures and student models to move authentic writing beyond traditional formulas. This book is a must read/must try for all ELA teachers."-- P. Tim Martindell, Ed.D, President-Elect
"The good news is that the book you hold in your hand is a lifeline to real writing instruction. Based on careful observation of wonderfully varied student writing, grades 4-9, and organized around the genres of the Common Core Standards, Fun-Sized Academic Writing is the best book I know for giving students a fun-sized suit that fits their true voices as writers and thinkers." -- Barry Lane, Founder
From the Inside Flap
- Publisher : Corwin; 1st edition (August 6, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1452268614
- ISBN-13 : 978-1452268613
- Item Weight : 1.61 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.5 x 0.6 x 11 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #191,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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BUT... as a special education teacher with a wide spectrum of abilities, multiple grade levels, and a double-size class load, I've struggled to find text my middle schoolers can read and understand. I've tried using the grade-level texts that my colleagues in regular ed are using, but there's a whole lot going on with kids with Learning Disabilities that seems to be left out or ignored in those examples, not to mention the reading level that isn't even in the same zip code as my kids'.
I just started using Fun-Size Academic Writing for Serious Learning with my kids and I'm cautiously optimistic. The essays are written by students at different grade levels, complete with misspellings and grammar gaffs, so it actually seems do-able to my kids. The What Writers Do part of the lesson has a specific focus, an objective for students to learn during the activity. During the Activity, the class analyzes what's good about the writing, the structure, word choices, punctuation, sentence type, literary devices - all those English-y type things teachers seem to love, but within the context of a real kid piece. The What This Writer Does part brings it all together for closure, the Big Picture moment. And when you get done with the activity, there are further suggestions for challenges and extensions. Wow!
The 101 essays aren't all that's in the book, however. The Appendices at the end are quite helpful.
Appendix A: 25 Ways to Use Great Student Essays (hopefully from the ones your students wrote) - some I'd never have thought of myself, such as making a labyrinth on the floor with corners holding examples such as extraordinary vocabulary, striking verbs, etc., and using it as a "walk" for students writing their own essays; or vocal color coding, listening to the first four words in every sentence, in alternating voices.
Appendix B: Text Structures, a wonderful visual analysis of different types of text, such as Comparing Notes: 1.) some people think... 2.) and other people think... 3.) But I think... 4.) What that tells me. Yes, it's template-y, but for a number of learners, it's precisely what they need to be able to become the kind of writer/reader/thinker we're trying to get to.
Appendix C: Lessons by Writing Trait and Level of Difficulty, cross-referenced so that you can find, for instance, Word Choice lessons at basic, intermediate, and/or advanced levels for differentiated instruction.
I wish I'd found this book earlier in the year. I'm glad to have found it at all, though, and will continue with it to see if it's as promising as it seems. If so, I'll come back to update.
I'm glad I found this product. I hope it proves beneficial to you, as well.